Associations of peri-pubertal serum dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls with growth and body composition among Russian boys in a longitudinal cohort

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2020 Jan;223(1):228-237. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.08.008. Epub 2019 Aug 26.


Background: Childhood exposure to organochlorines has been associated with alterations in somatic growth. We evaluated the associations of peri-pubertal serum levels of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) and nondioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (NDL-PCBs), with adolescent growth, body composition, and near adult height (NAH) in a longitudinal cohort study of Russian boys.

Methods: 473 8-9 year-old boys had serum DLCs and associated toxic equivalents (TEQs) and NDL-PCBs concentrations measured. Physical examinations were performed at enrollment between 2003 and 2005, and annually over 11 years to 2016; annual bio-electric impedance analysis (BIA) of body composition began in 2006. We used mixed effects models to evaluate associations of quartiles of serum chemical concentrations with longitudinal measurements through age 19 of body mass index (BMI-Z) and height (HT-Z) z-scores, annual height velocity (HV), and BIA-derived height-adjusted fat (FMi) and fat-free mass (FFMi) indexes. Potential modification by age of the associations of chemical exposures with growth was evaluated. NAH (defined as HV < 1 cm/year) and age at NAH attainment were estimated using parametric survival models accounting for right censoring.

Results: The medians of serum ∑TEQs, ∑DLCs, and ∑NDL-PCBs were 21.1 pg TEQ/g lipid, 362 pg/g lipid, and 250 ng/g lipid, respectively. In multivariable models, higher serum concentrations of peri-pubertal ∑TEQs, ∑DLCs, and ∑NDL-PCBs were associated with significantly lower BMI-Z, FMi, and FFMi over 11 years of follow-up. The differences in FFMi for boys with higher versus lower ΣTEQs and ΣNDL-PCBs increased with age. In multivariable models, higher ∑NDL-PCBs were associated with lower HT-Z, with attenuation of the association with age (interaction p < 0.001). The highest versus the lowest quartiles of ∑NDL-PCBs were not associated with differences in NAH, but were associated with an average of 6 months later attainment of NAH.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that dioxin and NDL-PCB exposures during childhood are associated with alterations in body composition and subsequent somatic growth.

Keywords: Body composition; Children's environmental health; Cohort study; Dioxins; Height; Polychlorinated biphenyls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Composition*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dioxins / blood*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / blood
  • Russia


  • Dioxins
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls